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TIAA-CREF Annual Meeting/Social Responsibility//All can help for July 19 mtg.

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  • Wollman, Neil J.
    NATIONAL COALITION URGES PENSION GIANT TIAA-CREF TO INVEST MORE RESPONSIBLY You can influence how $350 billion is invested! For TIAA-CREF participants: Raise
    Message 1 of 1 , Jul 1, 2005
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      Need Feedback by Thursday/ our basic TC Annual Meeting announcement/will circulate widely so important

      NATIONAL COALITION URGES PENSION GIANT TIAA-CREF

      TO INVEST MORE RESPONSIBLY

                                                                                    You can influence how $350 billion is invested!

      For TIAA-CREF participants: Raise your voice inside the annual meeting in New York City, July 19

      For participants and sympathetic others: Demonstrate outside the corporate office in New York

      If you can’t be there: Call and email the CEO

      For all: Please forward this message widely

      We call for TIAA-CREF to:

      invest positively (such as in low-income housing and start-up companies promoting environmental protection);

      divest from Costco, Nike, Wal-Mart, Philip-Morris/Altria, Coke, and Unocal (or Unocal leave Burma ); and

      pledge not to buy World Bank bonds.

      MAKE YOUR PLANS NOW: Meeting begins 9:00 a.m., Tuesday, July 19 (participants call 1-877-535-3910, ext. 2440 for a pass to attend). Demonstration runs 8-10:00 a.m., 730 Third Ave. (between 45th and 46th Streets).

      MARK YOUR CALENDAR NOW: Calls and emails: Anyone can raise a voice from their hometown during the week before the meeting (July 11-19). Call CEO Herbert Allison at 800-842-2733 or 212-490-9000. Ask for Mr. Allison and speak to his assistant. Calls are best, but you can also email HAllison@...  For background, see below or www.makeTIAA-CREFethical.org (and sign-up at web site for campaign updates). For further details, contact NJWollman@...

       “Make TIAA-CREF Ethical” Coalition

      The US Campaign for Burma  •  Corporate Accountability International (formerly Infact) •  World Bank Bonds Boycott • Press for Change  •  Social Choice for Social Change  • Canadian Committee To Combat Crimes Against Humanity (CCCCH)  •  Citizens Coalition (Frente Civico)  •  Educating for Justice  •  National Community Reinvestment Coalition  •  National Congress for Community Economic Development  •  Campaign to Stop Killer Coke/Corporate Campaign, Inc.  •  Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood •  Sprawl-Busters

      .=================================================================================

      Summary of the Issues

      The nation’s largest pension system, TIAA-CREF, a retirement fund mainly for educators, prides itself on responsiveness to shareholders and being a “concerned investor” regarding social responsibility. “TIAA-CREF believes that building long-term shareholder value is consistent with directors giving careful consideration to issues of social responsibility…Efforts to promote good corporate citizenship may serve to enhance a company’s reputation and long-term economic performance…” It specifically notes environmental impact, labor practices, human rights, and the common good of a corporation’s communities (Policy Statement on Corporate Governance).

      And yet, despite these statements:

      · TIAA-CREF holds shares in corporations such as

      Costco – promotes police brutality and the destruction of cultural heritage and the environment

      Nike and Wal-Mart condemned for selling products produced by overseas sweatshop labor

      Wal-Mart has bad domestic labor practices, hurts local business, and promotes urban sprawl

      Unocal – its business ventures with Burma ’s government help support that brutal regime

      Philip Morris/Altria – responsible for Marlboro, the #1 deadly cigarette brand among youth

      Coke – markets nutritionally deficient products to kids at home, tied to human rights abuses and water shortages abroad

      And, TIAA-CREF divested its harmful World Bank bonds and should state it will buy no more.

      ·  TIAA-CREF failed to follow through on its promise of April 2004 that it would address the concerns of the Social Choice for Social Change campaign that seeks investment in community development and other positive ventures. They talked for a year, then in May 2005 rejected all but one request.

      =================================================================================

      A New York Times article published after the last TIAA-CREF annual meeting in New York .

       
       
      A Plea to Invest in What's Good

      by Joseph B. Treaster

      December 16, 2003

      Copyright 2003 The New York Times Company


      At the annual meeting yesterday of the largest investment organization catering to university and college faculties and staff, investors raised questions about the chief executive's pay and urged greater emphasis on selecting stocks according to the social and moral character of corporations.

      Some of those attending the meeting in New York of the College Retirement Equities Fund, part of TIAA-CREF, the pension fund giant, complained about the poor performance of their pension and retirement plans during the last three years of depressed markets. But a message echoed repeatedly was that here was a group of investors who would accept a little less profit in exchange for making the world a little better.

      "It's not only important how much income you get, but how you get it," said Donald W. Shriver, a former president of Union Theological Seminary in Manhattan .

      Herbert M. Allison Jr., who joined TIAA-CREF as chief executive last fall after stepping down as president of Merrill Lynch, said, "We are mindful of the social issues." He added that the company tried to balance social concerns with its legal obligation to do its best to provide financial security and earnings for its more than 3.2 million investors.

      But both Mr. Allison and Martin L. Leibowitz, the chief investment officer, indicated that the company's long-held, relatively conservative policy of investing in stock indexes, or baskets of stocks, meant that it would inevitably put money into companies that sell harmful products like cigarettes or that have been accused of abusive labor practices. Investors in an index, by definition, give up the freedom to pick and choose.

      CREF already offers one of the largest funds that invests only in corporations that meet certain social criteria. But of the roughly $300 billion of TIAA-CREF's assets invested on behalf of clients, only about $5 billion is in its "social choice" fund.

      The investors, many of them identifying themselves as Ph.D.'s as they rose to speak, seemed pleased at several changes that Mr. Allison announced in the company's corporate governance. For the first time, an independent trustee, not employed by the company, is to become chairman of the board of trustees, he said, and terms of the eight trustees will be reduced to one year from four years, which means that all will stand for election annually. As of today, the chairman will be Martin J. Gruber, a finance professor at the Stern School of Business at New York University .

      Mr. Allison's $8 million in salary and bonuses, which the company disclosed early last month, is nearly 50 percent more than his predecessor was paid. For some investors, the pay increase contrasted painfully with Mr. Allison's earlier announcement that he was laying off 500 employees.

      James W. Keady, the founding director of Educating for Justice, a nonprofit organization that advocates social awareness for high school and college students, calculated that even without the roughly $4 million Mr. Allison was expected to receive in bonuses for long-term performance, he was being paid more than $10,000 a day. "If you have more money than you need," Mr. Keady said, quoting Gandhi, "you're stealing from somebody."

      The roughly 150 investors at the meeting, more than double last year's turnout, broke into applause. Mr. Allison then turned the floor over to Ronald L. Thompson, the chief executive of a Midwest manufacturing company and chairman of the committee that conducted the chief executive search. Mr. Thompson said that the company had been in competition with "many large, aggressive organizations" to hire Mr. Allison, and that the compensation had to be competitive.

      Throughout the meeting, Mr. Allison stood at a lectern at the front of the auditorium, listening more than talking. He remained calm, and so did most of the investors.

      "We were very pleased with the meeting," said Steven Goldstein, a spokesman for TIAA-CREF.

      The investors left in good spirits, too. "This is the most welcoming situation I've ever walked into," Mr. Keady told Mr. Allison and the others as the meeting ended.

      He was speaking from experience at many conferences on corporate responsibility. "The atmosphere was much more open than I've found at other meetings," Mr. Keady said later.

       

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